by Shirley Lorraine
Elite Tackles Complex Issues
Humanity is inherently flawed. In judgement, in morals, and in using honesty as a compass for life. This is the basis for the drama/dark comedy Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan now on stage at the Elite Playhouse in Channel Islands through August 7.
The extremely strong cast of four takes hold of their given dilemmas and attacks them with vigor and confidence. Solidly directed by Cate Caplin, the cast features Rosie Gordon, Herb Hall, Gabriel Tejeda-Benitez and Bill Walthall. All are compelling in their commitment to their characters and each one pulls the audience into their world without apology.
The action takes place in the lobby of an up-scale apartment building in Manhattan. It is the graveyard shift and Jeff (Tejeda-Benitez), a young man struggling with housing and money issues, is on duty. He is a security guard and a rather lax one at that. His supervisor, William (Hall), is a no-nonsense man with a high sense of propriety in life. The “Captain” has been a security guard for a number of years and expects his underlings to be equally diligent in their duties.
An affable neighborhood police officer, Bill (Walthall) is a frequent evening visitor to the building, supposedly to visit a friend. On this night, his rookie partner Dawn (Gordon) accompanies him and waits in the lobby with Jeff. New to the job, Dawn is at once reluctant to engage in conversation with Jeff, and yet is drawn in to learn that all may not be what it seems.
Bill has secrets. William discovers that his brother may have been party to a crime. Both find themselves in a moral quagmire and must decide where their loyalties lie as well as accept the consequences that must be faced. Dawn is disappointed in Bill, her mentor, as he reveals that he is a flawed, entitled officer nearing retirement who is within sight of the coveted “golden badge” for his service which will be lost if his indiscretions become known. Jeff’s thinking is adrift as he says both too little and too much at the wrong times.
The play is complex and substantive. The actors are all superb. Direction is tight. The audience is faced with all-too real situations that could easily skew an individual’s moral compass when push comes to shove.
The frank dialogue is peppered with expletives, and is often uncomfortable as the characters each grapple with the depth of their dilemmas. Although their situations differ, they are linked with one another through common knowledge, making decisions even more difficult to process.
The portrayals are so natural that it was easy to commiserate with each of the characters as they attempted to justify their actions. But rationale does not necessarily equal right. Each is acutely aware that how they cope with the circumstances will affect their futures and their friendships.
A well-written, well executed piece of theater.
Lobby Hero plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees. (805 483-5118, www.theElite.org. Proof of vaccination required, masks recommended.